Lawyers are often seen as a necessary evil, something to be avoided if you can. This is often because many health professionals think of lawyers in the context of litigation or malpractice lawsuits. But lawyers are not just there to clean up messes and fix problems. The right type of lawyer can help you avoid problems in the first place and even help you get more money out of your practice. If you own a dental practice or plan to in the future, read on. In this post, we’ll discuss what business lawyers can do for dentists and dental practice owners.
- What Does a Business Lawyer Do?
- When Should You Get a Business Lawyer?
- What Does a Business Lawyer Cost?
- How To Find the Right Lawyer For You
What Does a Business Lawyer Do?
A business lawyer, also known as a corporate lawyer, specializes in the legal aspects of running a business. Business lawyers can be a great asset to dental offices by helping to navigate the many legal matters that arise in the course of running a practice, such as:
- Drafting partnership agreements between dentists who have partnered to own/operate a dental practice
- Drafting employment contracts for your employees
- Providing advice on how to structure your business
- Helping with the formation of a dentistry professional corporation
- Helping with the purchase of a dental practice
- Providing legal advice in the case of employee disputes
- Negotiating office lease agreements and renewals
- Helping you through the process of selling your practice
Remember, as a dentist, you are not only working in patient care. You are also operating a business, which comes with many responsibilities and regulations. And because it isn’t reasonable to expect you to become an expert in the ever-evolving areas of business and employment law, it is essential to have an experienced lawyer who can advise you. In particular, a business lawyer with experience working with dental practices will be invaluable. The dental industry has its own set of rules and nuances that other businesses don’t have to deal with. A business lawyer specializing in the dental industry will know the issues you’ll be dealing with, will be able to explain the risks and steps necessary to manage them and will guide you through all aspects of running a successful dental practice.
When Should You Get a Business Lawyer?
A business lawyer specializing in dental law – a dental lawyer, as we like to say – can help you throughout your career, but there are some critical times when you will find them to be essential.
Launching Your Dental Career
A dental lawyer can help you right out of the gate by reviewing your associate agreement before you start that first job. This is especially important if you plan to open your own practice someday. You need to understand what the terms and conditions of the agreement mean and be aware of any clauses that could restrict where and when you can start your own office.
Starting Your Own Practice
Once you are ready to open your practice, there will be several legal issues you need to address, such as deciding how to structure your business, choosing a tradename that meets RCDSO guidelines and registering your business with the province and the CRA. A dental lawyer can help you through the entire process to ensure you can legally operate your dental practice.
If you are starting a practice from scratch, a dental lawyer can also help with the challenges of getting a lease that allows for dentistry and can negotiate the key terms needed to run a thriving practice.
When buying an existing practice, a dental lawyer can help you sort through the steps of this highly complicated transaction, understand the legal implications of your purchase and ensure that you are getting the best deal possible.
Hiring Your Team
You know that operating a successful dental practice will likely require more than just you, which means you’ll need to hire some help. A dental lawyer can draft employment agreements that address your needs as a dentist and consider all legal obligations you have as an employer. When handling employment disputes, the best way to avoid a problem is to understand it and be proactive where possible. A dental lawyer will be aware of potential risks and can advise you on how to minimize them. And if there’s ever an issue, you’ll want to get advice from a lawyer who knows your business and how to protect you before taking any action yourself.
Selling Your Practice
When the time comes that you decide to sell your dental business (or part of it if you have multiple practices), an experienced dental business lawyer is invaluable. They can help you prepare properly to get top dollar for your practice, find the right buyer, and protect you against any potential issues down the road with a solid purchase and sale agreement.
The above is just a quick overview of how a dental business lawyer can help you manage your dental practice and career. Check out our other posts for more details on each of these areas and more.
What Does a Business Lawyer Cost?
You may think, “This all sounds great, but corporate lawyers are for big companies. There’s no way I can afford it.” But that’s not true. The cost of legal services varies depending on the type of lawyer. And when you use a business lawyer specializing in small business, you can hire them for the specific help you need rather than setting up an ongoing retainer with a generalist. This approach means you only pay for the legal services you use, not a monthly fee for every service your lawyer could provide.
The cost of a business lawyer depends on the type of service you’re looking for and the complexity of your legal matter. A general rule of thumb is to expect to pay between $250 and $750 per hour. But some lawyers, like DMC, offer fixed-rate packages. A specialized lawyer experienced with issues that often come up when incorporating, buying a dental practice or dealing with a landlord on behalf of a dentist should have a good idea of how much time these things will take and how much the anticipated price will be. A good business lawyer will offer you a free consultation to get an idea of what it would cost and whether it makes sense for your situation (like diagnosing a patient before committing to a treatment plan).
Remember, when it comes to cost, you aren’t just looking at the price of services. A good business lawyer can help you save money in the long run by protecting your practice from potential lawsuits and disputes, ensuring that you follow laws and regulations, and preparing proper contracts for your employees and partners. And lawyers specializing in dental will be able to provide valuable insight into how your business functions, identify areas in which your business could be improved, and advise you on the steps necessary to make those improvements.
How To Find the Right Lawyer For You
It should be clear now that not all lawyers are the same. You will want to choose a lawyer who is experienced in the legal matters connected to owning a small business and knows how to help dentists in particular. And while that will narrow the field significantly, you can do a few more things to find the right lawyer for you.
First, it’s a good idea to ask others for recommendations. You can ask colleagues you went to school with, friends in the dental industry, and even other dentists in your area if they would recommend any business lawyers they’ve used in the past.
Next, check out their websites to get a better idea of what they offer and how they may be able to help you. For example, are they only specialized in employment law, or can they also help set up your dentistry professional corporation and negotiate your office lease?
Online reviews are also helpful before deciding which law firm to hire. Check out some reviews from clients who have used these firms and compare how they align with the recommendations you received.
Finally, once you have found a few potential law firms, schedule an initial consultation with a lawyer at each firm. Speaking with them directly will give you a better idea of who they are. No matter how competent, specialized, or respected a lawyer is, you might not like their style – how they behave or conduct themselves. They may be terse, heavy-handed, or put up a fight where it’s not called for. Or they may simply clash with your personality type.
You should only engage a lawyer with the above skills, knowledge and specialized experience after you have spoken with them. A good lawyer will want to know what you are looking for and will put your interests first. They should make suggestions and explain their recommendations but ultimately follow your lead.
A business lawyer can be an invaluable asset to your dental practice. They can help you navigate the legal issues that arise and give you peace of mind that you’re protected. It’s crucial to find a lawyer who understands how the dental industry works so they can explain things in terms that make sense for your practice.
If you have any questions or need advice specific to your practice, please reach out to us. We are dedicated to helping dentists build successful practices and are happy to offer our knowledge, experience, and support. Send DMC an email or call our team directly at 1-844-443-9280.